You could be a fitness/yoga professional with the knowledge, resources, time, job flexibility and all of the things and STILL choose to forgo stretching. Hi, it me.
So, I know that if I can forget to stretch, or just choose to do other things instead (looking at you, Netflix), then maybe you might, too?
Here are a few stretching tips for we can set ourselves up for better success in making it a bigger priority. I actually use these myself. But I have to say, sometimes some of these tips work better than others. When that’s the case and a specific tactic just isn’t working anymore, I’ve discovered that changing it up and trying others often reboots the habit.
1. Remind yourself about all the very important reasons to stretch.
Like I mentioned above, there are tons of benefits of stretching. Improving flexibility, prepping your body for a workout or to cool down after one, helping address muscle imbalances, reducing muscle stiffness and achiness, and just helping your body and mind relax are just a handful of them. I know when I do make the time to stretch, my training sessions feel much smoother, my body feels less lethargic, and I actually feel like I want to be more active.
Sure, there might be debate within the fitness world about some of the aspects of stretching— such as whether to stretch before or after a workout and when to use dynamic or passive or static stretching—but we pretty much all agree that keeping our bodies mobile and flexible is a good thing. Reminding ourselves of this often might help.
2. Put your stretching stuff in a high-traffic spot.
Keep a mat, yoga strap, block, foam roller, or something that will make you think about stretching somewhere where you will pass by it on a daily basis. This acts as a reminder that maybe you could do or stretch or two when you see it.
Does this stretching tip always work? No, but it does sometimes. Keeping my yoga mat in my living room worked for me in the early quarantine days, but I must confess that my mat has been giving me the side eye lately since it’s not getting as much as love as it used to. Hey, we all have room for improvement—I could probably put it in a different spot as a new reminder (and combine it with a couple more of these tactics).
3. Create small habits.
I mean really small. Pick one or two stretches that you know make you feel better and do only those. Do this maybe once a day. Maybe a few times a day. The key here is to make it as easy as possible for you to fit it in so that it never seems daunting. And then maybe add another one once this becomes a habit, or when you start to crave how much better your body feels after you do that stretch.
4. Stack habits.
Have a podcast or three that you listen to weekly? Maybe try doing some mobility moves or stretching while you listen. Or catch up on one of your streamed shows and stretch during one of the episodes. Maybe do some standing stretches while waiting for the coffee to brew or while brushing your teeth. Using a habit that already exists is almost like the buddy system for a new habit that you’re not quite acquainted with yet.
5. Plan ahead.
I know for some of us planning ahead feels overwhelming, so if that’s you, maybe just skip right over this one. But, if you are the type of person that needs things planned out for you, plan stretching, put it in your calendar, set a reminder, make it important. This can be especially useful if you’re already doing pre-planned workouts, like through a Peloton stack or a combo of other classes from online programming. Simply tack on an extra five-minute session to the end of your workout before you even get started.